Afghanistan: Taliban force women newsreaders to wear face coverings – as male colleagues act in solidarity | World News


The Taliban have begun enforcing an order requiring women newsreaders to cover their face on air.

It announced the rule on Thursday and only a handful of programmes complied, however on Sunday most were seen covered up.

Several male newsreaders were later pictured wearing a black face mask in an act of apparent solidarity.

The vice and virtue ministry is enforcing the rule after Afghanistan’s information and culture ministry issued a statement last week calling the policy “final and non-negotiable”.

“It is just an outside culture imposed on us forcing us to wear a mask and that can create a problem for us while presenting our programs,” said TOLOnews presenter Sonia Niazi.

Twitter users posted images of her male colleague, Sebghat Sepehr, presenting the evening news in a black mask, while a journalist on 1TVNewsAF did the same.

A media official, speaking anonymously to Associated Press, confirmed their channel was forced to implement the order on Sunday after being told there was no room for negotiation.

The rule is another example of the Taliban imposing an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam after seizing power last summer when America pulled out after 20 years.

There was hope the group might have moderated its approach because no dress code for women was initially announced.

However, the approach to women and girls has recently become more hardline, confirming fears of many who predicted a return to the worst days of the Taliban’s rule from 1996-2001.

An Afghan woman wearing a burka exits a small shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. Women's rights activists in the Afghan capital of Kabul insisted Sunday they would continue fighting for their right to education, employment and participation in Afghan political and social life, and said a recent Taliban decree banning forced marriage was not enough to address the issue of women's rights. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Afghan women must now wear the burka and girls are not allowed to go to high school

Women were told earlier this month to cover themselves head to toe with the burka and leave only their eyes visible, with male relatives facing punishment and even jail for any violations.

The decree also stated women should only go out when necessary.

“Islamic principles and Islamic ideology are more important to us than anything else,” Khalid Hanafi, acting minister for the all-male ministry, said at the time.

Girls have also been banned from going to school past sixth grade (around 11 years old), breaking a previous Taliban pledge that all ages could get an education.

When the old regime was toppled, girls and women were allowed to return to school and work.

The international community has made girls’ education a key demand for any future recognition of the Taliban government.


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